Monday, March 28, 2011

The madness of March

Having watched the #1 seeds (as if that means much) fall (2011 NCAA #1s who lost - Pittsburg, then Ohio State, then Duke, then Kansas), with one of the more esteemed being 'trashed' (said one newsie), one has to think about this madness [see Remarks, 03/22/2013, 03/06/2014] which seems to have now permeated business. Alas.

You see, for the sporting event, there is a small group of youngsters (a team), generally right out of high school, who are on a floor playing a game. Then, you have the cadre of watchers. Essentially, we have many multitudes of those which are of many types.

Of course, the fans make up the largest crowd. Now, some of these may be affiliated directly with the institution sponsoring the team (students, alumni, etc.). Many are not, having adopted the school, for a very large number of possible reasons. Then, there are the pundits, too many to enumerate, especially with the growing social media. But, taking the media pros, we have all sorts of analysis and predictions.

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No sense belaboring the point here. This madness has been around for awhile.

Yet, is not business now similar? That is, you have a small group of people actually doing something (doers, et al). I'll be nice and include the large body of middle people as doers. After all, distribution is a necessary service (and a human-oriented economy means 'service' as a main part - now, how to get this type of work to be respected with proper renumeration).

However, there is then a very large set of speculators. Even these are of types. The pros. We'll get back to those as that set does have some rational basis; for instance, hedging, in its proper sense (yes, I'll be so bold as to try to help define what that might be -- necessary to get hold of the need and use of a sandbox), is a must.

Too, there are a whole plethora of noisy media; some of these are full of pundits, while others are exploiting technical prowess such as to allow betting on about anything. Every business day, almost 24/5, there are up-to-date numbers and graphs about almost anything.

This state of possibility leads (or led) many to think that business might just be about this gaming (hence, the casino) and that we ought to let the individual investor in on the game (with serious odds against them, as those who run the game have regular extractions of the cream - will not name names, but just go back to the bad guys of three years ago to start a list).

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Now, just as we see a winner and a loser (zero-sum, folks) in the March madness, we, too, see this in business (near-zero). However, for that played on the floor, it's only a matter of pride. Except, plenty put real money on this via the business casino's counterpart in the gambling meccas.

In business (economics), playing games leads to real hurt. Of course, many of the best-and-brightest got their bonuses despite poor performance; yet, the downturn (no matter the current chimera's climb) was painful to the majority. In fact, the toxic assets are still there; we have a national debt that is way out of line (let's not detail the litany, as of yet).

Just too much to say, including Big Ben's sacking of the savers.

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Does business have to be that way? Well, as Buffet says, we don't need derivatives. Trying to control that whole thing (old idea bolstered by advances in technology) is imperative to a stable economy. Money? This thing of Ben and his crowd being oracles (ah, is it not fun, big guy?) is out of whack, to boot.

Of course, the gaming crowd thinks that futures betting will help us understand what might happen in the future. Sort of crowd sourcing, of and by the monied.

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One thing about the 'madness' of March. It's over quickly. Too, the lessons can be extracted without sloughing through seemingly endless mire. That? Priceless!

The madness of business? Lingering pain, and more, for the most. Gluttony for the fat cats.

Remarks:

04/02/2014 -- NCAA's take, plus.

03/06/2014 --  This comment motivated by two articles: Roy Williams' school (It applies across the board; notice that Stanford is mentioned. Perhaps, it is time to lose the hypocrisy and admit in talents others than those determined by sitting tests -- SAT, et al. Look up the theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner.), MTXE versus angry playing (The "MT" was for mental toughness. Who wants a society of patsies? Wait. There is a long list, starting with bullies. One has to consider that aggressive part of being angry. You know, those who have are above such. Admitting anger is a sign, many times of lack of control and influence. ... Oh yes, I need to remember James Dean's influence, perhaps. ... The, righteous anger comes to mind. Sheesh. We now have to get metaphysical.).

03/25/2013 -- The Atlantic had an article about King Abdullah II. Now, he is an example of a doer, from several angles. What I liked when I read it was that while being educated in Massachusetts, he bussed tables. What that means for those who don't know is clean up dirty dishes and such. When I, as a young man, was in the US Army, we had still had KP duty which included such types of things. Another task that ought to be tried once by everyone: cleaning the grease pit.

03/22/2013 -- GW at ESPN (see image on right) has a nice point of view on the madness (and related comments). We ought to have something similar for the financial folks, using play money, with prizes. That's the sandbox, folks. Then, the real stuff would be handled by mature, stable adults (not the greed ridden - and similar ilks -- okay?). The madness has to do with animal spirits just like the market (ala Adam). Too bad that one loss gets one out the door. Perhaps, at the final four level, there ought to be a round robin, like college baseball. --- Now, having just written the above, this glorious bit of madness is really a sham (see comment on 03/12/2012, below). The whole madness pits kids against each other, who are playing for naught (comparatively), being coached by millionaires, with big buck media behind the affair, and a bunch of other lucrative ploys benefiting from the labors of the few. If one looked at qualities (as in, abstract out a truthful look at this), one could find parallels (many, many) all across history (these things being not consider our best behavior). Granted some (as in, not all) of the kids go on to big bucks. Others find glory in their endeavors (what would be be without school spirit?). Yet, besides the commonality with historic events that aren't looked at as being our (humankind's) best moments, there are all sorts of analogs in business (which we've seen of late, in glorious detail, as being problematic at its core - the heart that is supposed to be related to finance). By the way, see the below comment (02/08/2013); that particular team ended up with a #1 seed.

02/08/2013 -- We're within 40 or so days of the Selection Sunday. Within the past few weeks, every team that got the #1 ranking lost in short order. The latest was Indiana. Earlier, Michigan got the #1 nod for the first time in 20 years. Guess what? They lost. Other #1s who lost: Duke, Florida, Syracuse. While not #1, within the last week, Kansas a perennial #1 lost twice. Coach Self then denigrates his team (see video at ESPN). That behavior raises questions of propriety (or it ought to). He makes 4 million or so; his success relies on a bunch of young guys who play 5 at a time on the court (see 03/12/2012 comment). As coach, is he to bring more to the table than just basketball prowess? Or bullying? Say what? Yes, teaching by example is precisely the message, yet does anyone even care? As well, isn't performance best tuned by leading, not whipping?

04/01/2012 -- By the way, we all saw a 1/2 billion payout (well, less in actuality) come to the fore in the news. Those, like Self, aren't paid like that, yet there ought to be some more discussion about the reality what with the offer to Weber at KSU (losing season, yet paid multitudes of some average "joe" pay).

Earlier (3/12/12), there was mention of doing a random thing with the 'big dance' (yeah, NCAA, you listening?). Oh, would Self (et al) even be in the game if it weren't for the remuneration? Anyway, there are all sorts of re-configurations that could be thought about. Oh wait! TV, and its monies, is what drives the deals?

04/01/2012 -- No, it's not April Fool. We have "ku,uk" (as in KU and UK, or as in a #2 and a #1). At UK (Lexington, if you need to know), there was rioting because of a win in a semi-final game. Sheesh. Louisville, thanks for being classy.

By the way, Self got his payday. You know, people. The issues regarding this post remain to be discussed.

So, here is a conundrum of major sorts. I was afraid that if KU wins, I would be hearing the braying of semi-asses for a year (as if this were Missouri). However, how could one want to favor UK with the behavior last night? What would be the reaction to winning the title? If KU wins, let's hope that Mass Ave (not 12th and Oread, but close enough) remains peaceful, relatively.

03/12/2012 -- Sentiment hasn't changed about the Shame of College Sports. Many push the ethical boundaries fairly far in order to get into the big dance. Why not have a random assignment between the NCAA and the NIT for some schools? Let's, at least, talk about it.

03/03/2012 -- Time again. Still of a mind that things are awry. Coaches make too much. If athletics are to be part of higher education, then make it a full person sort of thing. Is intramural still there? Full person? Yes,  think peripatetics, if you would.

05/28/2011 -- Lemons problem, dark pools, ... Oh, so much to look at!

05/07/02011 -- This week a story about Warren used 'ruthless' as if this is how business is expected to run. In the sense of a game, that would mean no refs/umps. Think of it. Too, Big Ben (get link) says that they cannot understand enough to know problems in advance (channeling King Alan).

04/03/2011 -- We will look at the background issues and more.

04/02/2011-- Weierstrass did not banish the motivations behind Berkeley's concerns.

03/29/2011 -- Part of the madness is seen in the warped ideology. As well, See 03/24/2011 Remarks (1/2 rant).

Modified 04/02/2014

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fourth March

Just as we looked at December and January, across four years, we can sample March posts. Since we're still in March, we'll not have one for 2011.
Remarks:

03/28/2011 -- See 03/24/2011 Remarks (1/2 rant) and on March madness.

Modified 03/28/2011